Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 2550L

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Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 2550L

Pros

  • Colour, small size, reasonable price

Cons

  • Slow, poor print quality, high running costs

Bottom Line

Sleek and low-priced, the LaserJet 2550L seems promising for small offices, but its speed and print quality aren't stellar.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 13 stores)

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The HP Color LaserJet 2550L is so compact you can hardly believe it's a colour laser printer. The neat exterior conceals a clever carousel design that squeezes the toner and rollers into a surprisingly small space. This unit's price looks like a bargain, too. However, to achieve that price it sacrifices some of the amenities found in other models. For example, you connect it to your PC only through its parallel or USB 2.0 port. There is no built-in networking, so to share it with your co-workers you would need to go through Windows or buy an external print server.

Out of the box, the 2550L's simple fold-out paper tray holds only 125 sheets. However, you can easily boost the capacity by adding a proper 250-sheet drawer, which is reasonably priced. You can also add a 500-sheet drawer, taking the maximum paper capacity up to 875 sheets. The output bin on top of the printer holds only 125 sheets, while the straight paper path exiting at the rear spits out paper and thicker media one sheet at a time, with no tray to support the output paper. Unfortunately, HP does not offer a duplexer attachment. If you expect to upgrade your printer, the Color LaserJet 2550n might be a better starting point, with its built-in networking and the 250-sheet drawer already attached.

Another drawback: this could be an expensive printer to run. HP estimates that the black toner cartridges last for 5000 pages (based on the industry-standard assumption of covering 5% of a page with black ink. The printer comes with colour toner cartridges yielding only 2000 pages, but replacements capable of generating 4000 pages are available. The imaging drum, which HP says lasts for 20,000 monochrome pages or 5000 colour pages, also bumps up per-page costs. If you printed high quantities of colour photos, covering far more than 5% of the page, your costs would be much higher.

In our tests, the 2550L took its time printing our test pages. It printed text at a leisurely 8.6 pages per minute, and colour pages emerged at a miserable 1.1ppm.

In our quality tests, the 2550L's text printing was unimpressive. While the smallest fonts were quite readable, characters looked mostly too heavy, and the solid internals of larger letters looked blotchy. A line-art sample came out better, with barely visible banding and close parallel lines that stayed distinct, if a little light. Reproduction of our greyscale image was very good, revealing smooth skin tones and good detail in dark areas. We saw some thin banding, but textured clothing in the image showed very little moire. The colour images looked a bit dark overall, but sharp.

As configured, without networking, the 2550L was a breeze to install on our test PC. The multiple-language Start guide walked us through assembly with clear, two-colour line drawings. A comprehensive manual is included on the software CD-ROM as both Windows Help and PDF files. The control panel lacks an LCD screen, but a set of collared LEDs and three dedicated buttons make operation simple.

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